Kisan Kranti Yatra: With barely months to go for assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh and the big Lok Sabha polls in 2019, this protest would surely pose a few uneasy questions before the Narendra Modi government.
Kisan Kranti Yatra: On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, India witnessed a massive farmers’ protest at Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. Around 25,000 protesting farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) were stopped at the UP gate on National Highway 24 — the border of Ghaziabad-Noida-Delhi by a strong contingent of heavy police and paramilitary forces on Tuesday.
Riding on close to 700 tractors with customised extra-large trolleys, the farmers, including men and women, began their ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’ on September 23 from Haridwar to Delhi. BKU had given the protest call over demands ranging from farm loan waiver to cut in fuel prices. While the farmers broke the barricades, police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, as per reports.
With barely months to go for assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh and the big Lok Sabha polls in 2019, this protest would surely pose a few uneasy questions before the Narendra Modi government. Gauging the repercussion of the ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’, the central ministers wasted no time as Home Minister Rajnath Singh held meetings with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and a few others to discuss the farmers’ issue. Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat met the protesters to assure them that their demands will be looked into.
The Centre has assured that a review petition will be filed against the National Green Tribunal’s order to ban diesel vehicles that are over 10 years old and several other measures will be taken to pacify agitating farmers and address their concerns. The central government also stated farmers that it would fix the minimum support prices (MSP) of rabi (winter-sown) crops like wheat at least 1.5 times of the production cost. It would also try to restrict imports of agri items that are produced abundant in the country. “Representatives of farmers along with ministers of UP government Laxmi Narayan and Suresh Rana held discussions on a range of issues at Rajnath Singh’s residence. After that a consent was reached on some issues. The government has agreed to some of your demands,” Shekhawat said.
BKU leader Naresh Tikait, however, said the farmers are “not satisfied” with the central government’s assurance. “This has not been a good decision. All important demands have not been accepted and we are not satisfied with this assurance,” he said. “But, our main demands of electricity, sugarcane recommendations of Swaminathan report remain as it is. These were among main demands of the farmers,” Tikait said. On the next step, he said, “We are sitting here as of now and this only is our next step.” “We will discuss this and then decide on future course of action. I cannot decide anything alone, our committee will take the decision,” he added. Notably, Tikait’s father Mahendra Singh Tikait had led a massive farmers’ rally in the national capital about three decades ago.
Latching on to claims put forward by farmers, Opposition parties have slammed the BJP government at the Centre as they termed stopping of farmers as “brutal police action”. Congress alleged that the “Badshah of Delhi Sultanate was drunk with power”. Reacting to the development, Congress president Gandhi Tuesday accused the BJP for “brutal beating up” of farmers at the Delhi border on the International Day of Non-Violence and said they cannot even air their grievances in the national capital. “On International Day of Non-Violence, the BJP’s two-year Gandhi Jayanti celebrations began with the brutal beating of farmers peacefully coming to Delhi. “Now, the farmers cannot even air the grievances coming to the capital!” he tweeted in Hindi.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation, in a joint statement, accused the Modi government of persuing with policies that have “deepened agrarian distress” forcing thousands of farmers to “commit suicides” due to debt burden. “The farmers have come out in support of their various demands… If we look at things, in the past over four years, almost 50,000 farmers have committed suicide, mostly in BJP-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh,” Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said preventing a protest march of farmers from entering the national capital was “wrong” and pitched for allowing them entry into the city.